Pink Moustaches, 7 Second Videos and Flirting Made Easy Posted at 0:00, Wed, 12 June 2013 in Industry Insights

MitchelLake’s Managing Director, Mike Page, spent two weeks in the San Francisco office. Here’s his update from Silicon Valley.

Three months is a long time in the start-up and innovation World. More so in San Francisco where time seems to move faster than anywhere else. The whole Bay Area seems to be in a perpetual pivot, constantly evolving at lightning speed. New ideas are literally launched on a daily basis and the appetite for change and disruption is woven into the fabric of the city.

Three months is also the time since I was last in San Francisco where the MitchelLake Group has worked closely with the start-up community for 7 years, including some outstanding Aussie businesses like 99designs who are making waves in the big league.

So what’s happening in the centre of the tech universe? As you would expect, quite a lot. Having spent the last 2 weeks in SF, here’s my take on what’s being talked about in the bars of SOMA and the cafes of Stanford.

Lyft; taking Uber to the next level. An app which matches taxi customers with private drivers who are using their cars to make some extra cash. Just when you thought the taxi industry had received its fair share of disruption this highly social based app has quickly created a market for itself.

The private Lyft vehicles sport a large distinctive pink moustache on the front grill and as you would expect come in all shapes and sizes. The ride is highly social (think front seat conversation rather than back seat silence). The tradition is to greet your driver with a fist bump and of course it’s well priced. Sounds like a fad? Well those that know obviously don’t think so as a couple of weeks age they raised $60m from Andreessen Howowitz to fuel further growth.

Vine. The Twitter acquired business which allows you to send a mega short video with your tweet. Maxing out at 7 seconds you would think this might have frustrated users rather than inspired them. Well, 13m downloads answers that question pretty easily and that’s just on IOS. This mobile social video solution last week released its Android app. With its current level of popularity and take up expect to hear more about Vine. The significance of the new release is interesting when you consider Instagram added 1million new users in 12 hours when they launched their Android version.

Similar in focus to Vine but already more established is the LA based social app Snapchat. They’ve been around for about a year and whereas on the surface you would think their photo sharing app is just like many others, the killer difference is that the picture you send self-destructs after a short period of time which you dictate. No more problems with photos you may not want to be sitting on a server for ever being found in the future.

The blend of time restricted viewing and ease of use has seen Snapchat go ballistic in the high schools and college networks and its now reaching into the wider population. So much so that they are reporting to be raising $100m over the next few weeks on a valuation of $700m – $1bn

Some simple but great ideas never go away, they simply morph with the times and wait for technology to play catch-up.

For those of you like myself who are old enough to remember the early forays into the online dating space, the website Hot or Not? will bring a smile to your face and perhaps a memory of wasted minutes at work when you should have been doing your job back in the day. Well, Tinder has taken this concept and introduced it back to the mobile generation.

Viewing photos and some basic Facebook data, the system uses geo-location to match you with other users nearby. You either chose yes or no to connecting with them and swap details if you want to. More flirting than online dating, the app neatly blends the instant gratification movement with the now established online dating market and boom, what’s old is new again. With take up numbers mirroring those of the early days of Facebook and Twitter (50 million matches made to date since its release in October), Tinder looks set for great things.

Just as old ideas are reborn and new ideas are tested, what was hot a heartbeat ago is now withering on the technology vine. There has been a lot of debate about Zynga in the tech press of late. What is their post IPO strategy?, can they keep growing with a two game solution set?

Well these questions were partly answered last week when Zynga announced that they will be laying off 18% of their workforce. A total of 520 people. Although the announcement was carefully crafted as you would expect the word on the street is that they’ve simply moved too slow for the market. The use of Facebook on mobile devices has left them behind.

Interesting when we’ve all been talking about mobile and tablet being the major growth platforms for some time now.

Spring is definitely in the air in San Francisco. The days are getting longer although the temperatures never seem to change that much and the fog is still omnipresent, appearing to enclose the city and form a natural boundary between the way things work here and the rest of the world.

August will see the America’s Cup carnival roll into town which will inject even more vibrancy and energy into the city (if this is possible) I wonder what new sailing related tech solutions are being prepared to be tested on the incoming audience as well as the locals?

But then again August is a couple of months away so who knows what could happen between now and then?